Colophon

English Studies in Canada, March-June 2003 | Go to article overview

Colophon


colophon (ka-le-fen, -.fan); noun

Etymology:

Latin, from Greek [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] summit, finishing touch; perhaps akin to Latin culmen: top. Also related to hill.

1. "Finishing stroke," "crowning touch." Obsolete. First English usage: Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621).

2. The inscription or device, sometimes pictorial or emblematic, formerly placed at the end of a book or manuscript, and containing the title, the scribe's or printer's name, date and place of printing, etc. First English usage: Thomas Warton's The History of English Poetry (1774).

adapted from Merriam-Webster online and the Oxford English Dictionary

Although the moniker didn't enter the English language until Burton and Warton escorted it, the first colophon actually dates from a century and a half earlier: the German Mainz Psalter, a book of Psalms published in 1457 by Johann Fust and Peter Schoffer. Fust is perhaps most famous for having foreclosed on his debtor, Johann Gutenberg, after the inventor of movable type was unable to repay his creditor. Some scholars speculate that a portion of the Mainz Psalter's text--perhaps even the colophon itself--had already been set by Gutenberg before Fust repossessed the equipment.

Colophons originally contained much of the printed matter that today occupies a book's title page. Title pages were not common in books printed before 1500, but the first known use of one is found in a papal bull of Pius IX, printed by Fust and Schoffer--yes, them again--in 1463. Until title pages became popular, colophons displayed a printer's unique mark or symbol as well as facts relevant to the book's production. Colophons revealed a printer's pride in his work; scholar Ruth Granniss goes so far as to accuse Fust and Schoffer of self-glorification. One might say they swaggered.

ESC's version of a colophon sits squarely in that long and storied lineage of book colophons, but adds a few quirks. Our colophon, similar to those you might have seen in magazines like Wired, will culminate the crowning touches and finishing strokes of ESC with a bit of whimsy and even goofiness. Each issue's colophon will be different, so stay tuned. We'll include more colophon trivia and information on the pages of ESC Digital as we continue to develop our website.

Typography:

ESC's body text is 10/13 Warnock Pro set in 25 pica measures, 40 lines per page. Warnock Pro was designed by Robert Slimbach in 2000 for Adobe Systems and its eponym is John Warnock, co-founder of Adobe. Warnock Pro is an OpenType font, a new font technology that was co-developed by Adobe and Microsoft from 1997-2000. OpenType fonts are cross-platform (that is, they run on both Windows and Macintosh operating systems with no modifications) and they are Unicode-compliant, which means that the font can contain up to 65,000 characters (if an exhausted designer has time and energy enough to design that many). OpenType fonts can thus contain alternate characters like ligatures and old-style numerals (both of which we use in ESC) as well as alternate characters like the swashes you see featured in our Table of Contents and the discretionary ligatures that we'll use firstly there, lastly here, but mostly in our epigraphs. …

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